The jury might still be out whether Stephen Elop was Microsoft’s Trojan Horse or the one who saved the company from an even worse fate by penning that burning memo platform and diverting Nokia away to Windows Phone. The turn of events today with Microsoft’s acquisition of Nokia’s handset business might indicate the former, the fact remains that Elop will continue to lead the devices business even in Microsoft and has now become the frontrunner for Microsoft’s CEO post.
Elop came to Nokia in September 2010 from Microsoft, where he was heading the business division under which Microsoft Office comes. He was also the first non-Finnish person to become Nokia’s CEO. Elop has a lot going for him – he has headed one of the most profitable businesses in Microsoft. He has, in a way, turned around Nokia, but more importantly ensured that Microsoft still had a role to play in the smartphone industry thanks to one dedicated hardware partner. While other brands went for Android or a combination of operating systems, Nokia was the only one to dedicate all its efforts to Windows Phone – a move that will be questioned for ever but it doesn’t matter anymore with Microsoft’s acquisition.
Even before the acquisition, the odds for Elop being one of the front running candidates for the top job at Microsoft were surprisingly really high. But it all got confirmed today when Ballmer mentioned Elop’s transition from being an external to internal candidate today.